tube socks

Tube Socks

80's Accessories Jul 20, 2022

The 1980s saw a number of unique fashion trends surface as a result of advancements in the fashion industry. One such advancement was the creation of tube socks. Although these popular socks were originally created back in 1967, their popularity exploded during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

80s tube socks
80s Fashion Trend: Tube Socks

Tube socks were characterized by their long length that typically went up to the knee area. They were popular to wear for sports, but they also made a great casual fashion as well. Tube socks were everywhere in the 1980s, and if you lived during that time, chances are you owned a few pair of them yourself.

So why were tube socks such a popular 1980s fashion trend?

History Of Tube Socks

It was in 1967 when the Nelson Knitting Company created the world’s first pair of tube socks. The company had been around since the 1800s, and it was their creation of the seamless sock knitting machine that allowed them to create the tube sock.

While previous socks had been designed with a toe and a heel section, tube socks were nothing more than a knitted tube with one end sewn shut. Simple in design, the creation of tube socks was one of the most important advancements in the hosiery industry.

80s tube socks
Tube Socks Were Named Because They Were Just A Tube Of Fabric With One End Sewn Shut

Although popular, the Nelson Knitting Company failed to properly patent its tube sock design. As a result, other manufacturers, seeing the potential of the design, began creating their own versions, flooding the market with a wide variety of options to choose from.

Tube Socks In The 80s

The failure of the Nelson Knitting Company to patent the tube sock ultimately led to the explosion of popularity of tube socks throughout the 1970s, and into the 1980s due to their wide availability. They were worn originally by athletes who participated in a wide variety of sports as part of the standard uniform. People like Pelé, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as well as Julius “Dr. J.” Erving were known to wear tube socks.

Tube Socks NBA 80s
Tube Socks Were A Popular Choice For Professional Athletes During The 1980s.

There were a number of advanced features of tube socks that made them particularly attractive for athletes. Number one is the knitted design was excellent at providing just the right amount of cushion needed for participating in high-intensity sports.

The elastic design allowed the socks to form fit to any foot, resulting in a one-size-fits-all design. The ribbed bands featured colored stripes which were easy to match with just about any uniform. Throughout the 80s, white tube socks were one of the most popular accessories worn at sporting events across the country.

80s tube socks
Tube Socks Were A Popular Choice For Just About Any Sporting Event During The 1980s
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Without question, the popularity of tube socks can be directly attributed to sports. And like many trends in athletics, tube socks would eventually transcend to casual wear.

As a result, kids who grew up in the 1980s wore tube socks with their sneakers to school, to the mall, and just about any place they went. They were perfect for growing kids because of the one-size-fits-all design. Since tube socks do not have any sewn-in heel, they were so easy to put on, that even a 2-year-old could do it.

tube socks 80s kids
Parents Loved Tube Socks Because The One-Size-Fits-All Design Made Them An Economical Choice

Tube socks also began to appear more and more in pop culture. This of course only added to their popularity when the masses saw their favorite celebrity or athlete wearing them.

In 1983, Tom Cruise starred in the popular film, Risky Business. He played Joel Goodsen, the over-achieving son of a wealthy Chicago couple. When Joel’s parents went out of town, his friend convinced him to have a little bit of fun on his first night of freedom.

After raiding his father’s liquor cabinet, he turned up the song “Old Time of Rock and Roll” on the radio. While wearing nothing but a pink dress shirt, underwear, and a pair of white tube socks, Cruise slid across the floor as he sang and danced to the sound of the music. This scene is one of the most iconic from just about any 1980s movie.

Tom Cruise Tube Socks
Tom Cruise Infamously Wore A Pair Of Tube Socks In “Risky Business” (1983)

Are Tube Socks Still Popular?

Tube socks are one of those timeless fashions that will probably be around for a long time to come. Though not as prevalent as they were in the 1980s, there is no shortage of tube sock sightings today.

Typically we still see tube socks worn by athletes like soccer players, and knee high socks are still a popular fashion trend for those that want to mix it up with a throwback style.

Jonah Hill Tube Socks
Jonah Hill Seen Wearing Tube Socks While Walking His Dog

Though they aren’t as popular as they once were, we do expect the tube sock to be around for decades to come. Such a simple and comfortable fashion is one that usually withstands the test of time, and tube socks exactly fit the bill.

Browse Tube Socks On Amazon Here